Demographic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Life Expectancy with Hearing Impairment in the U.S.

TitleDemographic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Life Expectancy with Hearing Impairment in the U.S.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsWest, JS, Lynch, SM
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
ISBN Number1079-5014
KeywordsAging, Bayesian multistate life table methods, Hearing impairment, Life Expectancy

Hearing impairment is one of the most common disabilities among older people, and its prevalence will increase as the U.S. population ages. However, little is known about social disparities in onset or transitions into and out of hearing impairment, nor how these transitions impact years of life to be spent impaired. We investigate the number of years an “average” person can expect to live with and without hearing impairment after age 50; sex, race, educational, and regional differences in these expectancies; and the implication of hearing impairment for remaining life expectancy. Bayesian multistate life table methods are applied to 9 waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study (1998-2014) to investigate social disparities in life expectancy with hearing impairment (n=20,200) for the general population, people hearing impaired at age 50, and people hearing unimpaired at age 50. Men, Hispanics, persons with less educational attainment, and those born in the south can expect to live a larger proportion of their remaining lives hearing impaired. Although transitions from hearing impaired to unimpaired occur, those with some hearing impairment at age 50 can expect to live more years with hearing impairment, and hearing impairment does not shorten remaining life expectancy. Significant sociodemographic disparities in hearing impaired life expectancy exist. In contrast to past research, we find that hearing impairment does not affect total life expectancy. Future research should consider the consequences of hearing impairment for years to be lived with other age-related and potentially downstream health outcomes.

Citation Key11059
PubMed ID32944746